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The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej…
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The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman (original 1986; edition 1997)

by Andrzej Szczypiorski

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4981141,818 (3.99)30
In the Nazi-occupied Warsaw of 1943, Irma Seidenman, a young Jewish widow, possesses two attributes that can spell the difference between life and death: she has blue eyes and blond hair. With these, and a set of false papers, she has slipped out of the ghetto, passing as the wife of a Polish officer, until one day an informer spots her on the street and drags her off to the Gestapo. At times a dark lament, at others a sly and sardonic thriller, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is the story of the thirty-six hours that follow Irma's arrest and the events that lead to her dramatic rescue as the last of Warsaw's Jews are about to meet their deaths in the burning ghetto.… (more)
Member:lkhohmann
Title:The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman
Authors:Andrzej Szczypiorski
Info:Grove Press (1997), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:poland, holocaust, holocaust survivors, world war ii

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The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski (1986)

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» See also 30 mentions

English (8)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
An excellent novel that looks at Poland (Warsaw) and the Polish during the German occupation of Poland during WWII.

The story is based around the blond and blue-eyed Jewish widow Mrs Seidenman, now known as Mrs Gromowski (sp?), a Polish officer's widow. Someone informs on her, and her community comes through to save her. Though this is the framework for the novel, each chapter looks at a different person living in Warsaw at the time--from Mrs S-G (as she goes by after the war, living in Paris), to Pawel (a teen who plays a part in her rescue), to her academic next door neighbor Mr Korba (who sets the ball rolling, and has no idea that she actually is Jewish), to a street criminal. We also meet a long-time pro-Poland fighter in the Underground who has been fighting for an independent Poland since 1905, Pawel's best friend Henio (and his father and 4-yo sister, who is smuggled from the ghetto to a convent, where she is converted to Catholicism to save her), to Johann (Jçs) Mí_ller (a German who has lived in Poland his entire life, and plays the key role in saving Mrs Seidenman).

It can get a bit confusing with multiple nicknames and aliases, but you get a real feel for the community that existed under occupation. During WWI, Poland was occupied by the Russians, and you see the fear from those events effecting some of the characters' actions. You see the confusion over what the Germans are doing to their Jewish friends and neighbors, and anyone who crosses the paths of the wrong German occupier.

( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
This is a very sad but enjoyable novel set in Poland and Warsaw in 1943. The novel brings together Polish history and the Polish character and attitudes through the thoughts of various people, all of which have contact with Mrs Seidenman, a blue-eyed and blond-haired Jewish woman. Mrs Seidenman has changed her name and has false papers. Andrzej Szczypiorski manages to get an excellent balance between the dark sadness of those days and the humour as individuals engage with each other and carry on some sort of normal life. The author shows incredible compassion for everyone, Jews, Germans and Poles and makes a good attempt to get inside the head of the different characters in the novel. Szczypiorski was born in 1924 and took part in the 1944 uprising and so the novel feels authentic in the scenes it portrays. It is good to read a war novel from a Polish perspective and this was an excellent read. ( )
  CarolKub | Feb 10, 2016 |
The Beautiful Mrs Seidnman Andrzej Szczypiorski
3 Stars

Set in Nazi occupied Poland in 1943 the title character is a Jewish widow who happens to have blonde hair and blue eyes which help her when she is betrayed to the gestapo.

This is the story of multiple people who know Mrs Seidenman or who have contact with her. We see what is happening from multiple points of view, the Jewish view, the Polish view and even the German view giving the reader an insight into the workings and thinkings of Poland as a country.

This is not an easy book to read due to the shifting narration and the time spans each narrator covers, I would say you really need to read this with nothing distracting you and that once you have read it through go back to the beginning and start again with an idea of how the book is structured so you can follow the narrative and benefit from the insights you gained first time round. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
As far as World War II literature goes, I feel I've read better and more emotional works. Maybe it was the use of multiple viewpoints with chapters all from different perspectives, but I felt this was very unconnected and I never really felt much sympathy for any of the characters. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
A story of Poland told through several stories of people who are living in Warsaw, Poland and generally is set in WWII though it does span over several years and into more modern times. Poland is made up of many peoples who have identity with Poland; the Polish, the German, the Jewish and Russians. The characters were all intimately presented and we get to know their inner thoughts and how others see them. The author gave each person their unique voice but also was able to speak through his characters to give the reader insight into Poland.

OPENING LINE: The room was in twilight because the judge was a lover of twilight.

QUOTES:
But God is merciful to those who seek Him, even if they search for him in such peculiar circumstances, amid the world's filth and indignities. Pg 30

Christians considered themselves superior,perhaps precisely because although being in the minority, they nevertheless felt themselves to be favored by the world. Pg 86

The sky always seemed to him dirty. Pg152

What has become of our freedom if we cannot be ourselves? 160

They took away the right to be herself, the right to self-determination. 192

WORDS:
Xenophobic; fear of foreigners
Semitophile; lover of Jewish people and culture
Philologist; humanist specializing in classical scholarship

******CLOSING LINE: But it's possible that she would have felt the same sense of relief at bringing into the world a son.

RATING: excellent ( )
2 vote Kristelh | Sep 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrzej Szczypiorskiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rasch, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the Nazi-occupied Warsaw of 1943, Irma Seidenman, a young Jewish widow, possesses two attributes that can spell the difference between life and death: she has blue eyes and blond hair. With these, and a set of false papers, she has slipped out of the ghetto, passing as the wife of a Polish officer, until one day an informer spots her on the street and drags her off to the Gestapo. At times a dark lament, at others a sly and sardonic thriller, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is the story of the thirty-six hours that follow Irma's arrest and the events that lead to her dramatic rescue as the last of Warsaw's Jews are about to meet their deaths in the burning ghetto.

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